Saskatchewan auditor wants better monitoring of opioid dispensing in pharmacies

Saskatchewan’s provincial auditor has tabled a report that calls for the Health Ministry to pay closer attention to how highly addictive opioids are leaving pharmacies.

Judy Ferguson took a microscope to how the ministry monitors prescribing and dispensing of opioids.

She says codeine, hydromorphone and fentanyl prescriptions patterns are higher in Saskatchewan than national averages.

Ferguson identifies gaps in a program that tracks how such drugs are prescribed and monitored.

She says the Health Ministry doesn’t actively watch how opioids are dispensed from the province’s 385 pharmacies, so doesn’t know if pharmacies are contributing to the ongoing opioid crisis.

Ferguson recommends the province develop what she calls risk-based monitoring to flag any concerns over how opioids are dispensed by pharmacies.

She also suggests the ministry and Saskatchewan’s College of Physicians and Surgeons consider whether there should be a requirement for a patient’s medication history be reviewed before being prescribed opioids.

“Ineffective and insufficient monitoring of opioid prescribing and dispensing practices may result in increased addiction, abuse and misuse, and diversion of prescribed opioids that can ultimately lead to overdoses and death,” Ferguson said in a release Thursday.

Her report cites figures from the Saskatchewan Coroners Service that shows 119 people died due to opioid toxicity in 2018 and another 117 in 2017.



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